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How to Plan for Your Nonprofit Program Evaluation

Just because a new program is needed doesn’t necessarily mean that your nonprofit organization should be the one to start it. You need to take other factors into account. Consider the following factors when assessing your ability to start a new program.

Pay attention to the budget

A new program is almost always going to add expenses to your organizational budget. To be sure that you don’t get yourself into a financial hole, carefully project the extra costs you’ll have from additional staff, increased space, equipment, and insurance. After you have solid expense projections, you have to project where you’re going to find the added revenue needed to pay these costs.

Evaluate organizational and staff capability

Does your organization have the knowledge and expertise to provide the program services? This question may not be a concern if the proposed program is merely an extension of what you’ve been doing. If your organization is branching out into new areas, however, be sure that you or someone else in the organization has the credentials to provide a quality program.

Also pay attention to hidden staff costs. For example, consider whether your current program director will have sufficient time to provide adequate supervision for the new program. Will you need to hire a new staff person or consultant to implement the program? Is this a one-time cost or recurring cost to continue the program? Will this person require a computer, cellphone, insurance, or office space?

Remember special requirements

Check whether you need additional licensing or accreditation to provide the program. This issue is especially important for human-services programs. For example, if you’ve been working with teenagers and want to expand to elementary and preschool children, find out whether your program space must meet additional building-code requirements in order to serve a younger client group.

Fit it into the mission

From time to time, we’re all tempted by the idea of doing something new. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if you could sell goldfish in the front lobby? But you have to ask yourself what selling goldfish has to do with your organization’s mission. If you go too far afield, you can detract from the hard work of addressing your organizational purpose.

Think long term

An idea that looks good today may not look good next year or the year after. Don’t forget that costs rise year after year. Your staff appreciates occasional raises. Try to imagine where the program will be five and ten years into the future.

Funding sources may be available to launch a new program or expand services. But it’s wise to have a plan for sustaining the program after it is launched by identifying funding sources for its ongoing support after the initial funding source is gone.

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